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Forgotten football stars: Diego Ribas

Juventus FC vs AC Chievo Verona - Serie A
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The Forgotten football stars series returns to Ronaldo.com today, as we take a look into the career of Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas.

Remember Diego Ribas? He was considered as one of the hottest prospects in football when made his professional debut at Santos back in 2002, at the age of only 17.

Diego quickly became a regular in the first team of Santos and played an excellent debut season in the Brazilian Serie A netting 10 goals in 28 appearances.

His big break came in the summer of 2004, when he joined European champions Porto as a replacement and the potential successor for Deco, who was off to Barcelona after lifting the Champions League with the Dragons.

The midfielder spent only two years in Portugal, winning the Primera Liga once, before moving to Werder Bremen during the summer of 2006.

In Bremen, Diego probably played the best football of his career, noting 54 goals and 42 assists in 132 games across all competitions. He was named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season for two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, and helped The Green-Whites to win to reach the UEFA Cup Final in 2009.

After an impressive 2008-09 campaign, where Diego scored more than 20 goals for the first (and the last) time in his career, and won the DFB-Pokal, the Brazilian moved to Juventus for a fee which could rise up to €27 million.

However, he spent only one season in Turin and returned to the Bundesliga, signing for Wolfsburg for a club-record transfer fee of €15.5 million in August 2010.

After spending the 2010-11 campaign in Germany, Diego was loaned to Atletico Madrid in a one-year loan deal. He inspired the Colchoneros to UEFA Europa League glory in 2012, playing a vital role for his club in the late stage of the competition.

The Brazilian finished the tournament as the top assist provider with nine assists by his name and shined in the Final against Athletic Bilbao noting a goal and assist in a 3-0 victory for Diego Simeone’s side.

He returned to Wolfsburg at the end of his loan, but after a year and a half moved back to Madrid, spending the last six months of the 2013-14 campaign at Vicente Calderon.

Diego won the Spanish La Liga in his second stint at Atletico and was only minutes away from a Champions League glory in the 2014 UCL Final against Real Madrid.

At an international level, Diego represented Brazil in 34 games, netting only four goals for the Selecao. He was part of the teams which won two back-to-back Copa America titles in 2004 and 2007.

His return home came in 2016, when he joined Flamengo, after spending the previous two years at the Turkish side Fenerbahce. Diego made an instant impact in Flamengo and quickly became the team’s most important midfielder. He is currently playing his fourth season at the club, having scored 36 goals in 142 appearances so far.